Whaddya Mean My Ancestors were Confederates?!

When I was a kid, I loved learning about the American Civil War. I read books about it, watched movies about it, and even dressed up as a Union general one time for Halloween.

I enjoyed Civil War re-enactments, and Ken Burns was, and still is, one of my idols.

So, naturally, I was pretty fascinated to learn that some of my ancestors fought in that war.

I’d have felt better if they had fought for the North instead of the South, though.

I’m not one of those good ol’ boys who likes to whistle Dixie, or spout off things like “Well, there were Irish slaves, too!”, just in case you were wondering.

However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it interesting that my ancestors fought in the bloodiest war ever fought in American soil.

When I was in college, before I knew of my Southern ancestry, I used to make fun of my best friend for having received an academic scholarship from the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“You had ancestors fight for the Confederacy? You’re a racist!” I’d say, obviously in good fun.

You would have thought that I’d stop making fun of him for his Confederate ancestry when I found out I had some myself.


When I have Confederate ancestry it’s interesting because it’s historical. When my friend has Confederate ancestry, then it’s racist.

In all honesty, for the longest time I just assumed that my ancestors fought for the Union. I mean, my father’s family is originally from Germany (and no, “Yonk” is not Chinese!), and they settled in the Ohio area in the 1830s.

My father was actually born in Lancaster, OH, the birthplace of one William Tecumseh Sherman, who was most assuredly NOT a Confederate.

Plus, my mother’s father’s ancestors immigrated to America from Italy and settled in the New Jersey area long after the Civil War ended.

However, I didn’t even take into account my mother’s MOTHER’S ancestors.

That’s where my Confederate lineage lies, courtesy of the Joyner and Winstead family lines in eastern North Carolina.

Side note: I’m not 100% sure of this, but I MIGHT be a distant relative of Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She was born in Nash County, according to Wikipedia.

Once I learned of my Confederate ancestry, I signed up for a free two-week trial on ancestry.com to see if I could learn which ancestors fought where.

It turns out the Joyners fought with the 30th NC infantry, while the Winsteads mainly served in the 47th NC infantry.

The 47th actually took part in Pickett’s Charge on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

So that concludes today’s history lesson. If you made it all the way through, then I tip my hat to you 😊

And no, I do not want the South to rise again.

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